Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I always thought of extra as something you don't need. like extra cream in your coffee, or extra whipped cream on a sundae. But in the movie world, extras are really important. At least that is what the Disney folks said to us, the extras who showed up for the filming of Secretariat, who was the Triple Crown winner in 1973. When he won, it had been 25 years since the last winner and it was historically significant because he won by 31 lengths!

The movie being made by Disney was filming in Lexington at Keenland this week and they needed extras. I wasn't busy, so I made myself a 70s style top, dug out my 70's jewelry, did my best Farrah Fawcett hairdo and off I went.

They were very disorganized, so it took some time to figure out where I had to go. Finally I found the cold upper deck section of the grandstands reserved for the extras who are essential to the production. I mean, what good is it to have a champion race horse winning the Triple Crown if no-one cheers him home. And believe, me we cheered ourselves silly.

First, we were not really at Keenland according to the movie-makers; it had been changed to Belmont in New York. So, the race we were watching was supposed to be the race where Secretariat won the Triple Crown, the climax of the whole movie, and we were there to cheer him on. And cheer we did.

We cheered from the rail, we cheered from the box seats, we cheered from the upper deck area [every section], we cheered from the benches, we cheered when the horses were re-enacting the win, and we cheered when there were no horses at all [which felt totally ridiculous, but we were acting, right?], and we cheered silently when we were told to do so.

I actually scored a sign along the way [not many signs to go around] and mine had a line drawing of a horse head with the words "Triple Crown." So, if you see the movie, look for a crazy middle age woman with a blue batik top with huge sleeves and big hair carrying a Triple Crown sign. That will be me! I held that sign way above my head right at the finish line while I cheered my heart out, so maybe that will be a freeze frame or something and you can pick out my sign.

When they filmed a paddock scene another lady and I lead a cheer, "GO BIG RED" till we were about hoarse [pun intended]. Luckily I am a very experienced talker with lots of stamina, so when others were losing their voices, I kept cheering. I was also a back ground person in another paddock scene. I had the important job of chatting with three other ladies in an informal way. Not much acting there, except we couldn't actually make any noise [very difficult!].

A couple of funny things that made me laugh:
  • There was an older man with very non-70's facial hair. He was told he could be an extra if he didn't mind losing the beard. He didn't mind, so a Disney guy whipped out a cordless razor and shaved him right there.
  • There were a lot of cops--well really extras pretending to be cops and security. The funny thing was a lot of the extras thought they were real cops so it was hilarious listening to people asking them cop-related questions. Some said, "Hey, I work in an office, I never wore a uniform till today," while others played along and gave semi-cop answers.
  • One black gentleman had about the best costume there in my opinion. He was tall and thin, about my age, and had a powder blue polyester leisure suit, a striped polyester shirt with a wife-beater underneath, a striped blue fedora, a HUGE Polaroid camera around his neck, and ponytail. His name was Earl. I was next to him in one shot and said I loved his hat. I asked if it was his or Disney's. He said it was all his, the whole outfit. Another man asked why he still had a leisure suit [the guy who asked was in a Disney suit, brown leisure and he said he hoped no one smoked, he was afraid the suit would melt on him]. Earl said he also had a purple and green one at home. He said he puts on his outfit, and a Fender Guitar and goes to parties to liven them up. We thought he meant he played the guitar in a band, but no, he uses the guitar as a prop, it was his dad's and he can't play a note. We all laughed when he then removed his hat and the ponytail was attached to it-he was really very clean cut.
  • Since there were only a few hundred of us but we needed to look like thousands in the stands, we had to keep changing locations to cheer. Then they will splice it together and make it look like there was a huge crowd. Someone at Disney got the great idea that the extras who had played the horse owners in the earlier paddock scene should not be sitting in the grandstands with the rest of us, in case they were spotted. It would look weird to have them sitting with the crowd, so a Disney guy yelled to all of us, "Are there any horse owners here?" Well, this is Kentucky, and it is a movie about horses, so about 1/3 of the people started to stand up. The Disney guy's jaw dropped, he shook his head, smiled and dropped his head--then he looked up and said, "I mean, is there anyone in the stands who PLAYED a horse owner in the paddock scene we shot today." Oh! About everyone sat down and one guy yelled from the back, "I own a beagle, does that count?"
  • Another guy from Disney asked, "Does anyone have hair pieces?" I mean, everyone looked at everyone else. If anyone did they were not going to admit it. So we all played dumb, then the guy said what he really meant [he said this very slowly, syllable by syllable], "Are there any men with mustaches or long sideburns?" Ahh, say what you mean. They pulled these guys and put them up front because they looked more 70's.
  • The camera crew actually dug a hole at the finish line to put one camera in so that it will [presumably] shoot the hooves when they cross the line.
All in all I was out there 12 hours, and you are not going to believe this, but:
  • There must have been 30-40 kids and not one kid was bad or obnoxious or whiny all day
  • Nobody smoked all day, but I didn't see any no-smoking signs. Not sure if Keenland is non-smoking or what, but it was weird to have hundreds of people and no smoking
  • Not one cell phone rung all day. Not one! Some folks called out on the phones in the lulls [most of the day was a lull] but not one phone rang.
All in all a fun and educational day. They did feed us, one large hot dog, one bag of chips [I got the Bar-B-Que], one large drink. The paid extras [I was unpaid, the basic difference was the money and the paid ones wore Disney clothes, we wore our own] were paid minimum wage [we asked a "cop"].

It was very disorganized and I felt I could have saved them quite a bit of money if I was in charge, but alas nobody asked me. I talked to all sorts of interesting people from little kids to octogenarians--really a diverse group--and learned a bit about each of them.

And Extras--they couldn't make a film without us, we should be called Essentials.

Take care,

PS No pictures in this post because it wasn't allowed, but you can see the Promo bulletin here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

13 Gun Salute...

As I was wrapping bars and bars of soap this morning, I thought I should share an incredible, nearly spiritual experience we had yesterday.

Our long time neighbor, Johnny Lamb died earlier this week. He was in his 70's and had been ill for quite a while. Bob was asked to officiate at the funeral, along with grocery store owner, Leonard, yesterday. Chad and Scotty were asked to be Pall Bearers.

Since Johnny had been in the military, we think in the Korean War, he was to be buried with full military honors. We have a military cemetery about 15 minutes south of town which is his final resting place.

It was a foggy morning, and while we waited at the pavillion for the hearse, we saw, coming through the mist, a horse pulling a flat wagon with the flag draped coffin atop. It was led by a veteran in a Civil war uniform [Camp Nelson trained northern soldiers, predominently black soldiers during the Civil War]. Following came a horseless rider, led by another wool clad soldier. The slow clop, clop of horse's hooves were all we could hear as the caisson approached.

Once the casket was in the pavillion, four military men shot three rounds, for a total of 12 shots. Then one of the Civil War soldiers fired off a cannon, to make a 13 gun salute. The cannon smoke swirled around the mourners and on into the haze. Then the sound of taps could be heard floating through the pungent black powder mist, carrying through the haze the mournful notes of a soldier's farewell- a final tribute to a man who lived well and was loved much.

We all felt like Johnny would have love it!


*This picture is kind of like it, only there was one Civil War dressed soldier leading the horse pulling the caisson, and one leading the horseless rider.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Comics anyone?

I love a good comic, don't you? I currently have two favorites--Zits and Pickles. Zits makes me laugh right out loud much of the time. If you have ever had a teen son I think you will enjoy it. Since I had teen sons for 18+ years I find it hilarious most of the time.

Pickles is another great comic. It is focused on a Grandpa and Grandma and the interaction they have with each other, their daughter [and husband] and their grandson. Earl Pickles reminds me so much of my dad that sometimes it is bittersweet reading.

But, and this is the great thing, regardless of your favorite comic, you can subscribe to it [for free] on line and have it sent right to your email. I love this feature and the best part is every comic is in color, so everyday seems like Sunday!

Just go to:

and sign up to receive your favorite comics. There are ads on the page, but they don't send you and junk mail or anything like that. This ends my public service announcement for today.

Take care,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This is not my story...

This is my sister's story, but I can't resist telling it...

My little sister was always terrified of bears. Ever since I can remember she had an irrational fear of bears. I can relate, because I feel that way about snakes. But back to Joy.

When we were kids Mom and Dad used to take us camping a lot. I mean, I thought the National Parks were my summer home. And, that is not all--we hiked and back packed. Even the littlest of us hiked. I remember Dad fixing me up with an old army packpack when I was seven. There really weren't specific kid backpacks like there are now, so Dad had to shorten straps and make other adjustments.

When we were hiking, sometimes a couple of us kids would hike a bit faster and hike on ahead of Mom, Dad and Joy. Then Joy would start off on her own to catch up with us bigger kids. One time, and I think we were on a trail to Mt. Ranier in Washington State, Joy let out a blood-curdling scream--I think she was six at the time. We came running back down the path and Mom and Dad came running up the path to find Joy paralyzed by fear. She was hysterical because of the bear! But, it wasn't a bear-it was a stump. In all fairness it did look like a bear.

That night my dad slept with a pistol and we hung our gear from some trees because of the bears. Joy slept between Mom and Dad in their sleeping bag while I can remember scrunching down so far in my army-surplus mummy bag that I actually thought I was going to die from lack of oxygen. I had a mini-panic attack that night, but I talked my twelve-year-old self down, thought clearly, and found the face opening and breathed in the life giving cold mountain air.

At any rate, her fear of bears was well founded. Oh, and did I mention that we were sleeping on the floor in a rock camping-cave [not deep enough to harbor a bear-at least that is what my parents told me].

Later, when we moved to a house where I got my own bedroom--I was 15 and Joy was 9--{older Sister Gail was off to college-Bruce had his own room forever} many times Joy would climb into bed with me because she was afraid bears would get her [in her own room]! But, like I said, I have an irratiaonal fear of snakes, so I can sympathize.

So, imagine my surprise when I got these pictures from Joy, shot with her own camera. They were down in Tennessee, taking their stuff into a cabin for a nice vacation.

Joy took these pictures of a momma bear with three cubs ransacking their mini-van. Ken [her husband] was unloading and left the sliding door open. Can you imagine?

I would have thought Joy would have been crying and would have locked herself in the bathroom or something, but apparently, now that she is 40 something and has 4 children, I guess she has outgrown this fear. [Sure wish I could say the same about snakes!]

And what is up with this cub, taking up tennis?

As a note, black bear populations are on the rise because mother bears are having 3 cubs routinely and up to 5 cubs at a time. Years ago, they usually had twins, and sometimes triplets. Now, triplets and quadruplets are the norm. Naturalists are questioning and studying why this is, but I think it must be the increased nutrition-eating all those granola bars! [See top picture]

Take care,

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pumpkin Scones

I know it is not really fall yet, but with the unseasonably cool mornings I start to dream about Pumpkin Scones. So, for those of you who like spicy pumpkinny things, here you go. Maybe I will make some today and add pictures.


Preheat oven to 425°. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray or use parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine:
1 1/2C flour (white or fresh whole wheat)
1 C rolled oats [quick or old fashioned]
1 Tablespoon baking powder
7 Tablespoons sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger

Cut in till mixture resembles crumbs:
6T butter, chilled, cut into pieces

In a small bowl, whisk together, then add to flour mixture:
1 large egg
1/2 C pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
3Tablespoons half and half (or you can use eggnog or even skim milk)

Mix gently just until dough is formed (less handling makes a lighter scone).

Shape into a ball, then pat into an 8” circle. With a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges, separate them a little bit and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Pieces should not touch each other. Bake for 14-17 minutes at 425° until lightly browned, and a nice crust formed.

Cool a bit, but when scones are still warm, use a brush to paint a coating of the glaze over the top of each scone. If the glaze is too thick, add a bit of milk to thin down. Then, while that glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing. When glaze is set, drizzle spiced icing over scone and allow to set before serving.

Make a glaze by combining in a small bowl:
1 C powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (or milk or eggnog)
1/8 tsp cinnamon (omit if using the frosting below too)
Splash vanilla
(Optional) To make them a bit spicier and prettier, make the following:

Spiced Icing:
Use the frosting that is left over above and add:
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of cloves.
Enough powdered sugar to make it thicker.

Take a fork and dip in the spiced icing and drizzle over the glazed scones.

These are incredible.
And if you want to really treat your tastebuds, you can serve with the following butter.

Serve with any type of scone

Put together in a small heat-proof bowl:
2 Tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries
½ C boiling water

Let set 5 minutes, pour off water and chop berries. Add to berries and whip together:

½ C soft butter
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve with warm scones or biscuits.

Take care,

Oh, and I should mention, there is nothing better to drink with scones than English Breakfast or Darjeeling Tea. My favorite place to buy tea leaves can be found here.

Check out my post on my other blog--Chocolate Monkey--a great chocolate dessert.